It is a striking image: Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, flanked by six men, signing stringent abortion restrictions into law as part of the state's new budget Sunday night.
Karen Kasler, a local reporter for Ohio Public Radio and TV's Statehouse News Bureau, captured the image and shared it on Twitter, where it received a flurry of comments asking: "Where are the women?"
“I could see how you could conclude that there were no women involved in the final part of the budget process, because there weren’t,” Kasler tells Whispers. The six men standing behind Kasich include the four Republicans on the six-member Ohio budget conference committee, the state budget director and the Senate president.
“The way it was lined up behind him… folks looked at that and said ‘Where was the diversity?’ Not just for women, but for diversity in general,” she says.
While there were female reporters in the room, no female elected officials were present.
The new abortion provisions will make it harder for family planning groups like Planned Parenthood to receive federal funding, while making it easier for crisis pregnancy centers, which often counsel women against having an abortion, to receive the same money. The provisions also work to keep abortion clinics from obtaining transfer agreements with public hospitals and require doctors to perform ultrasounds before an abortion, informing the woman if they find a heartbeat.
Before signing the budget into law, Kasich indicated to local reporters that he would not veto the abortion measures, saying: "Keep in mind, I am pro-life."
Ohio's new abortion restrictions come just days after state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Texas, successfully filibustered proposed anti-abortion regulations in her state. But those regulations are back on the table Monday as Texas begins a special legislative session, and Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, has vowed that this time, "it will become law."
Updated 07/01/13 to include comments from Karen Kasler, the reporter who took the photo.